Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cleaning Up Cast Iron

I was browsing my local Goodwill Store the other day (I love Goodwill, by the way.  How could I not?  It's like a perpetual garage sale that goes on every day from 10am to 6 pm with new things added daily.  What could be better?) and stumbled upon this old cast iron Griswold skillet.  My other cast iron is made by Wagner so this would be my first Griswold.  I knew for $5 it was going home with me.  This is what it looked like when I brought it home:

For the first time in a long time we didn't have anything going on today and so I decided that it would be a good time to clean this skillet up and start the seasoning process.

I went to Orchard Supply Hardware ( I wanted to go to our locally owned hardware store, Hewitt's Hardware (another place I love) but they are closed on Sundays) and picked up several pumice stones--this is the brand I like:
It may be just my own preference but this brand seems to be a softer type of pumice and I just like how it's shape will change as you are using it so that you can really fit it in to tight spots.

So, I had my supplies:

And I got to work.  Now, I am not going to tell you that you won't have to use some major elbow grease even with using the pumice stone, but I can guarantee that it will be easier than without the pumice. 

I started using the pumice by accident.  I had been trying to clean up a huge 12" cast iron skillet that I had seasoned improperly by using too much oil and I had been scrubbing with a low grade steel wool  for what seemed like hours.  In frustration I finally headed to Hewitts to pick up a higher grade steel wool hoping that that would start breaking down the gunk.  I got the highest grade steel wool but then I happened to see the pumice stone and decided to give it a try.  Major improvement!!  It is now my tool of choice when trying to break down a gunky seasoning.

This is the skillet at about the halfway point:

  I like to use a heavier fat the first time I season a pan--like bacon grease.  It just seems to give the pan a better and stronger non stick surface.  After the first seasoning I will use any oil I have on hand...olive oil or vegetable oil for subsequent seasonings. 

And this is at the point where my new old pan  is all cleaned up and oiled down (very lightly) and ready to go in the oven for it's first seasoning:

I think it turned out pretty good.  I'll season it a few more times before I start using it but it is well on it's way to joining my other pans in my continuing culinary experiments. 

Hope you all are having a great Sunday and resting up for Thanksgiving this week.  By the way if you have any tips about cleaning and seasoning cast iron I would love to hear them. 


  1. ~i l♥ve cast iron and am always on the lookout while thrifting!!! you did a wonderful job bringing this pan back to life...many happy cooking days ahead...i never thought to use a pumice...i use kosher salt to clean magic on removing rust!!! warm wishes and brigh full moon blessings upon you and yours~

  2. I love cast iron... I finally talked my mom out of one of her cast iron skillets she brought with her from Germany over 50 years ago... Needless to say I love it.. your find looks great.. I love the square skillet... more room


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